Ford is establishing a connected services group in its Asia Pacific and Africa region.  

New vehicles introduced there will have increasingly sophisticated and intuitive technology that enables customers to more easily and safely access entertainment, navigation, emergency and other services – increasingly through their phones, the automaker said.

It has appointed Ed Pleet as director of the group, which will be based at the company’s Asia Pacific and Africa (APA) headquarters in Shanghai, China.

The connected services team will build partnerships with technology service providers across Asia Pacific, Africa and Europe to ensure customers have seamless access to affordable data and information services.

The team will also tap into local expertise.

In Asia Pacific and Africa, the SYNC connectivity system is currently available in China in the US-made Edge and in the Explorer in the Philippines and Japan, and will eventually be available in the new Focus and other models in the region, as part of the continued global roll out.

SYNC will be able understand 19 languages including different dialects and accents. It will add Mandarin Chinese, Australian English, Japanese and Korean. Ford is currently testing the Mandarin functionality in preparation for delivery to Chinese customers.

SYNC also recognises over 10,000 different voice commands.

Ford believes SYNC will prove enormously popular in Asia Pacific and Africa markets. A recent survey showed that more than 60% of mid to large size car owners in China own a smartphone. In addition, more than 70% of smartphone owners in China have instant messaging, music and search apps on their phone, and they are also the most used applications.

The decision to base the connected services group in Shanghai reflects company strategy to support growth in China and across Asia Pacific and Africa, a region where 60% – 70% of the automaker’s sales growth will come from over the next 10 years.

Today, one in every six vehicles Ford sells globally is in Asia Pacific and Africa. By 2020, it will be one in three.

Ford plans to add 3,000 new jobs throughout the Asia Pacific and Africa region by 2015, mostly in China, India and ASEAN to support expansion in those growth markets.

Ford announced earlier this year that it will bring more than 50 new vehicles and powertrains to Asia Pacific and Africa by 2015, including 15 new vehicles to China, eight to India and eight to ASEAN.